Happy Mardi Gras! Growing up, we always called today Fat Tuesday. We would eat a lot today before Lent started tomorrow. An Italian tradition is to make very large meatballs with raisins; however, my family didn’t like the raisins so they didn’t use them. I can get on board with the Irish tradition of pancakes or the Polish tradition of jelly doughnuts, or paczki. I got these from the grocery store. They were a tad stale with cheap-flavored jelly in them, but I’m sure real ones are the bomb.
I wanted to try my hand at making a New Orleans king cake. I read a lot of recipes beforehand, and every one is a bit different. So I mixed and matched and came up with the following recipe.
For the cake:
2 packages active dry yeast (1/4 oz. each)
1/2 cup warm water (110-115 degrees F)
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup warm milk (110-115 degrees F)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 1/2 cups flour (may need more)
For the filling:
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup butter, softened
For the icing:
1 box powdered sugar
5-6 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons light cream
green, purple and gold colored sugars (I bought these ready made at Target.)
For the cake, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add 1/2 cup sugar, butter, milk, eggs, salt, orange peel, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flour. Beat on low speed in a KitchenAid mixer with a dough hook until a dough forms. You may have to add more flour until you see the dough is no longer sticking to the bottom of the bowl. The dough should not be too sticky.
Knead dough on a floured surface until you have a nice dough ball. Put dough in a bowl greased with olive oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place. (I wrapped it in a blanket and put it near the heat in my bedroom.) This may take a few hours. It should double in size.
After it doubles, punch it down and roll it into a rectangle. I made my rectangle about 18 x 8 but you could make it longer lengthwise so that you have more flexibility to roll it into different shapes (like the Haydel’s long rectangular shape).
Spread the filling on with a spatula and leave about 1 inch around the edges. Roll it up and then pinch to seal the edges. Use some water to do this. It’s a bit tricky but really make sure to do it or the filling will seep out while baking.
Put it on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and let it double in size again.
Bake at 375 degrees F on a baking sheet for 10 minutes and then 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. Cool completely. When cool, lift up and put plastic baby somewhere in the bottom of the cake. (You can’t bake the baby in or it might melt.) Drizzle with icing and sprinkle with colored sugars on top.